Eva.Stories, an Instagram-based Holocaust education project created by the Israeli tech entrepreneur Mati Kochavi and his daughter Maya, has received recognition in two categories of the famous Webby Awards 2020. Popularly dubbed as the Oscars of the Internet, Webbys are awarded each year to creators of the best digital projects on the World Wide Web.
Among 13,000 participating projects, this innovative approach to recounting the horrors of the Holocaust has received recognition in two categories. The first is for the Best Series & Campaigns in Education & Discovery as a nominee. The second is an honoree recognition for the Best Use of Social Media in Advertising, Media & PR.
Eva Heyman’s (true) story
The project follows a true story of a Jewish 13-year old girl named Eva Heyman who lived in Hungary during the Second World War. She met her untimely end at the hands of Nazis in 1944. Showing Eva as a modern-day teenager with a smartphone, Mati Kochavi has used modern devices of storytelling to bring her experiences closer to contemporary young audiences.
Specifically, Eva Stories consists of 220 Instagram video snippets and several photographs featuring real actors portraying Eva, her family, and friends. Her experiences are based on a diary she kept at the time, much like Anne Frank’s. Eva’s mother, Agnes Zsolt, who survived the Holocaust, discovered her daughter’s diary upon return to Nagyvarad. Ms. Zsolt later took her own life.
Mati Kochavi and his daughter combed through 30 other diaries kept by the Holocaust-era teenagers, before deciding to go with Eva’s. Eva.Stories pulls you in as you watch a bubbly teenager interact with the people in her life and goes about her day.
The tragic fate of the project’s main character is foreshadowed by the overwhelming presence of Nazi soldiers and open hostility toward her coming from random passers-by. The teenager records all this as she walks the streets of her hometown of Nagyvarad. The atmosphere takes an even darker feel as the family huddles together waiting for their turn to be taken away.
Eva was deported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in June 1944 and died in October that year, along with her grandparents.
Positive reactions and an impressive following
Upon learning about the wins, Mati Kochavi, also the founder of major tech companies, including 3iMIND, Vocativ, and AGT, and his daughter delivered a statement for the media.
They praised the Israeli people for supporting Eva.Stories and expressed their goal to refocus public attention on Eva’s life and bring history to the youngest social media generation.
This project has gathered more than a million Instagram followers and grabbed worldwide media attention for its innovative approach to education about the Holocaust. Mati Kochavi’s media company called it a new genre, following certain rules and providing a real peer-to-peer experience of imagining Eva as a teenager with an Instagram account.
The filming of Eva.Stories took place in Ukraine and involved the participation of more than 400 members of the production team. The duo launched the project on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2019.